MFA Invites Public to Vote on Works for “Boston Loves Impressionism” Exhibit

The public will choose 30 works from the European Impressionism collection to be displayed in a special crowdsourced exhibit opening on Valentine's Day.


“Water Lilies” by Claude Monet, 1907, oil on canvas. Bequest of Alexander Cochrane. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts.

Ever wanted to help curate an exhibit at a major art institution? Now’s your chance—no M.A. or Ph.D in art history required. Today, the Museum of Fine Arts launched its “Boston Loves Impressionism” contest, inviting the public to “Share the Love” and vote for their favorite pieces from 50 works of the museum’s Impressionist collection.

The MFA’s popular Sidney and Esther Rabb Gallery of European Impressionism is closed for renovations until June, but rather than placing the entire collection in storage until then, the museum will hold a special show opening on Valentine’s Day, displaying the top 30 works chosen by the public to remain on view—its first-ever crowdsourced exhibit.

“This is the first time we’ve ever presented an exhibition selected by the public. Boston has long loved Impressionism, and voters have the opportunity to write the next chapter in the story of Boston’s passion for the artistic movement that has played such an important role in the MFA’s history,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director at the MFA, in a press release.

Each week, the museum will offer a new selection of paintings, grouped by subjects, that the public can vote for once a day:

– January 6-12: “On the Water” featuring 17 seascapes and water views
– January 13-19: “From the Land” featuring 17 landscapes and still lifes
– January 20-26: “Of the People” featuring 16 figures and portraits

Then, in a final round opening on January 27, the public will rank the top 10 vote-getters chosen from across the three categories in the previous weeks. During the exhibit, all 10 will be highlighted with a heart on the wall to indicate their status as the public’s favorites, and the top three will earn a place of honor at the entrance. Voting will end on January 29, giving the museum’s curators and designers just two weeks to install the exhibit and tell the story of Boston’s lengthy love affair with Impressionism (Fun facts: the MFA holds the largest collection of Monet’s paintings outside Paris, as well as the first work by Degas purchased by an American museum).

It’s an “exciting first” for the MFA and to show their appreciation, the museum is extending invitations for free admission to the exhibit’s opening weekend to all voters. The vouchers include a plus one, so bring a friend or a date—the weekend will be filled with special Valentine’s Day activities (and what could be more impressive than taking a date to the museum and telling them that you helped to create one of the exhibits?)

So what will it be? Monet’s sure-to-please “Water Lilies” or more of an underdog (if there even is one in such a group of masters)? It’s entirely up to you, so head over to and cast your vote.